Playwright Toby Alameda begins a stint as creative director of the Cansville Theatre in Louisville, Kentucky, and sets about to reconstruct the story of his boyhood home and the extended family that had lived there. The structure itself had been expanded from a modest farmhouse where his family took in relatives during the Great Depression. By the time the young Toby was practicing archery in his upstairs bedroom two generations later, the great emptied house had so grown into his being that he hardly gave it any thought.
The folly of melding imagination and memory wends through the characters and local actors as the house comes to life upon the stage: the transvestite, Grey Calhoun, who will star as his beloved cousin, Virginia; Darling Forrest Nixon, wife of the theatre owner and aspiring muse to Toby; the old, empty LBJ Hotel where he rents a room on the top floor; and Charlotte Brown, maid in the hotel whose piano playing moves the play toward music and Toby toward the play’s completion.
The plot of the novel is Toby's attempt to make up a story he already knows; it builds with the writing of the play and culminates in the day before the premiere of “The Big House.”
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.36(d)|
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Smart, insightful and great fun to read. I highlighted more quotes to read later than with any other book I've ever read on my Kindle. It's a story about a playwright at work so it offers a lot of insight into the creative process. For instance "..he continued to dare himself to be able to get to the end, then to complete it. He wrote a little each day until he could go a little further, increasingly less amazed and quietly more comfortable at what opened up to me." That just rings true to me and there were so many moments in the book like this where I thought 'Yes, that's exactly how it is." At the same time, the world of the book is a dreamy, almost surreal place, with mildly absurd characters and a timeless quality: I felt a little startled every time some aspect of the modern world appeared in the story. Very glad I came across this one; definitely has a place on my 'To Read Again' shelf.
CANSVILLE, Alan Flurry's first published novel, is more than just a strikingly assured and polished debut. It's a seriously provocative and challenging examination of the creative process as an important component of what makes us who we are, and an appealing, compelling read on top of that. After a virtuosic opening chapter establishes the character of Toby Alameda and the seeds of his family history, including his complex relationship with his cousin, Virginia, Flurry plunges into his story of making a story. The characters, most of whom are or may become associated with the Cansville Theatre in Louisville, where Toby has just relocated to become artistic director, are sharply, warmly drawn and unusual without being overly quirky or "eccentric." And Flurry's deeply perceptive narration, alternately flitting and burrowing, is privy to Toby's internal negotiations as he formulates the play - a biography of his own family home, "The Big House" - that will become his first production at the Cansville. Flurry's essentially simple, direct story vividly illustrates the elusive fact that art and history do more than inform one another: they are engaged in a perpetual process of mutual creation that demands to be acknowledged - and joined - by those who hope to contribute to either.